RATIONALE: Immunization is a critical tool in the fight against infectious disease epidemics . Understanding hesitancy towards immunization is even more important nowadays, with the continuous threat of COVID-19 pandemic . Medical conspiracy beliefs, scientific skepticism, as well as low trust in governmental institutions, and evidence-based knowledge all have troubling effects on immunization .
OBJECTIVE: To examine how these factors cross-react to influence vaccine behavior against any vaccine preventable disease (VPD), we hypothesized a model consisting of the belief in conspiracy theories as the predictor, and as the mediators subjective and objective vaccine knowledge, and trust in the health care system and science . The model was tested by examining the vaccine intentions for the children and self for any VPD .
METHODS: Two separate studies were conducted on the representative samples of Serbian population; the first study investigated the intentions for child vaccination and the second study examined the vaccine intentions against any VPD, including adult vaccination . We used path analysis followed by logistic regression to analyze the data .
RESULTS: The results revealed high vaccine hesitancy motivated by the belief in the vaccine conspiracy theories, through its effect on reduced trust in medical science and institutions, and low objective vaccine knowledge .
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study may be used to implement appropriate policy changes and implementation of the public health campaigns to promote immunization with a wide range of vaccines against common diseases, such as measles, human papillomaviruses, or pertussis, and novel diseases, such as COVID.